Malta is deservedly a big hit with the UK MICE market, offering a mixture of a pleasantly sunny climate, fascinating history, friendly locals and all-round value-for-money. The team at our partner DMC Alpine Sterling know Malta and her sister island Gozo like the back of their hands, and Managing Director Warren Zahra has shared his personal thoughts on the charming Balluta area of St. Julian’s.
“The melodic chimes of the Carmelite Church bells in Balluta echo across the bay as a fresh breeze caresses the square, offering reprieve from the summer sun. The triangular Balluta Square, wedged between Sliema and Paceville, offers a fantastic location to stop and relax in the afternoon, be it after a day of activities on jeeps, quads, bikes, segways or after savouring the fine and relatively unknown wines at one of our many vineyards.
You can enjoy Balluta Square after a day of meetings, or after exploring our wonderful historical towns and cities on foot. This stop could also be arranged after a day spent cruising at sea along the beautiful Blue Lagoon and inlets of Comino on a catamaran, a yacht or a gullet, which would leave you pleasantly fulfilled, or after sailing along some of the most magnificent fortifications of Valletta, which date back 450 years.
In the evenings, the area doubles up as a buzzing hangout for the trendy crowd seeking a refreshing aperitif after work.
Named after ballut, the Maltese name for an oak tree, the square is ‘guarded’ by the majestic Balluta Buildings – the finest example of art nouveau on the islands – and the Le Méridien St Julian’s Hotel & Spa, which is built on the grounds of the 19th-century Villa Cassar Torregiani. The hotel has been instrumental in injecting life to the area. And if you’re seeking to place your meeting or incentive in Malta, you should consider checking into this boutique five-star hotel that is within walking distance of the island’s nightlife, yet wedged among a picturesque bay and a selection of bars and restaurants for your entertainment.
Apart from boasting an award-winning spa to revive your weary bodies and quieten your over-stimulated minds, the newly appointed general manager, Alex Incorvaja, has roped in a dynamic food and beverage team to ensure your taste buds also get treated to a feast of flavours at Scirocco Restaurant and a guaranteed memorable culinary experience at Taro, the newly minted, au courant, bistro-style restaurant.
If you don’t wish to stray far from the hotel grounds, then Warren Zahra and his team at Alpine Sterling will be on hand to suggest a number of fine choices where to dine; some of our favourites include The Villa, which offers an exquisite experience teamed with a picture-postcard view, or the more informal U Bistrot for a glass of wine and a quick bite. Beyond the hotel, make sure you discover the little French patisserie that bakes mouthwatering ham and cheese croissants, quiches, delicious pastries and cakes, which you can enjoy in the square.
Lining the bay are also a few of Malta’s popular restaurants. For a fine dining experience, visit the family-run Barracuda Restaurant, which is perched right over the bay atop its more family-oriented pizzeria, Piccolo Padre; or if you want Mediterranean cuisine, book a place at the unassuming Wigi’s Kitchen. These are all places which we are sure you will enjoy.
A bit further up is the legendary City of London pub, which opened during World War 1 in 1914, where you can sample a choice of the island’s best beers; or if you’re after something hip in terms of cuisine or a refreshing cocktail and live music visit the contemporary Electro Lobster Project, which is tucked beneath Balluta Buildings.
And finally, if you just wish to enjoy a quiet night, simply order room service, pop open a bottle of wine and sit on your terrace to watch the sun set over the bay as it washes the buildings’ limestone with an orange hue. This is just part of the experience which we would love to share with you, an authentic, truly Maltese experience in one of the most eclectic locations that Malta has to offer. The Le Meridien St Julian’s and its surrounding locations are just three hours away from most UK airports.”